Review of "New Hope For People With Bipolar Disorder"

By Jan Fawcett, M.D., Bernard Golden, Ph.D., and Nancy Rosenfield
Prima Health, 2000
Review by Prem Dana Takada B.B.Sc. (Hons) M.A. Clin Psych on Oct 25th 2001
New Hope For People With Bipolar DisorderNew Hope is a well-written text on the diagnosis and management of Bipolar Disorder. It has 12 chapters in total in an easy to read format, which covers a wide range of topics. It is the collaborative work of a psychiatrist, Dr. Fawcett , psychologist, Dr. Golden and bipolar survivor Nancy Rosenfield providing a combination of solid medical information as well as a plethora of useful practical tips. Geared toward the sufferer themselves, family members, partners or anyone who has contact with the disorder.

At the beginning of chapter one the question is posed "Is it possible to turn suffering into genuine human achievement?" It is promised that "You will discover that it's possible to transform a serious loss or human infliction, such as receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, into a positive and meaningful life experience by understanding and mastering the principles of a positive mental attitude". Tall order for a difficult and sometimes recurrent illness? The format and contents of the book go a long way towards suggesting that it may be possible.

We are introduced to various high profile individuals who have suffered from the disorder. Through the stories of e.g. Judge Sol Wachtler, Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite ( both news reporters) and Nancy Rosenfield herself, we hear how others learnt how to cope with their illnesses, specific symptoms, personal concerns and reactions to being diagnosed with this illness. This is surely the book's primary strength -aiming to reduce the immense stigma surrounding bipolar disorder. Specifically, time is spent highlighting the enhanced creative aspects that sometimes accompany a more manic state. (along with how mania may trigger other people's fears about being more uninhibited and spontaneous).There may be some danger that a stereotype of creativity emanating from destructive urge could be perpetuated rather than a recovered individual having access in new ways to their creativity.

The next section covers the diagnosis and background biology of Bipolar Disorder, including medication. I was impressed by the frank discussion of all areas in this section--there is even a 1999 positive preliminary report of a study investigating omega 3 fatty acids.

Psychotherapy is covered briefly, the cognitive therapy type, followed by a chapter on the prevention of suicide. Here we are introduced to a summary of the many well know facts concerning suicide risk and prevention. Abraham Lincoln is then called upon as a historical figure who suffered severe depressions but made his distress known to his friends and accepted their help. Self-help is also emphasized in the following chapters.

In summary, while I agree with their basic premise -- that hope must be found -- I was left wondering just how much an affected reader could follow and how inspired would he or she really be.

© 2001 Prem Dana Takada

Prem Dana Takada, B.B.Sc. (Hons) M.A. Clin Psych, originally trained as a Clinical Psychologist in Melbourne, Australia where she also acquired registration as a Family Therapist. After leaving Australia, Prem Dana worked as a Principal Clinical Psychologist in West London where she continued to work with individuals, couples, families, and as a group therapist and received further training as a Hypnotherapist in Oxford. She has traveled widely having also lived and worked in India, and has been in Japan for the last seven years where she currently runs the Psychotherapy and Healing Practice and is President of Mental Health Professionals Japan--a professional organization established for International Therapists.

for Western Therapists.


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